Coney Island

Brooklyn’s first drive-through coronavirus testing site opens in Coney Island

March 20, 2020 Paul Frangipane
A health care worker prepares to swab a patient's nasal cavity for a COVID-19 test at Brooklyn's first drive-through testing facility in Coney Island on March 20, 2020. Photo: Paul Frangipane/Brooklyn Eagle

UPDATE: As of March 22, this testing site is no longer operating, according to NYC Health and Hospitals. H+H is no longer testing by appointment and is instead using its testing locations on a priority basis to help divert patients from hospital emergency departments. People with mild symptoms of COVID-19 are advised to stay indoors and only seek hospitalization if they are severely ill.

Brooklyn’s first drive-through testing site for the novel coronavirus opened Friday morning as a way to ease stress on emergency rooms from patients seeking testing.

The Coney Island site is operating Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ida G. Israel Clinic at 2925 W 19th St. (the entrance is on W 20th Street), and is by appointment only. The drive-through is the second location run by Coney Island Hospital to offer testing outside of the hospital facility. A testing center opened outside the hospital for the same purpose.

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“We’re just trying to ensure that people can be taken care of without flooding the hospital facility itself,” said Rosanne Mottola, assistant director of public affairs at Coney Island Hospital. “If we can do this and have people just stay in their cars and get tested without the potential of spreading whatever they may have, that is a win-win for us.”

Health care workers prepare to take a coronavirus test from a patient at the newly-opened drive-through testing site in Coney Island. Photo: Paul Frangipane/Brooklyn Eagle
Health care workers prepare to take a coronavirus test from a patient at the newly-opened drive-through testing site in Coney Island. Photo: Paul Frangipane/Brooklyn Eagle

People who feel they might need testing can call 311 or 1-844-692-4692 to get in contact with a physician who will assess their symptoms over the phone. If the physician thinks the patient should be tested, they can direct them to the drive-through site, or whatever testing site is closest to them, Mottola said.

Once patients arrive at the site, they’ll be screened again to see if they still need a test, and if they do, they’ll receive a nasal swab, which will be tested and returned in two to four days by BioReference Laboratory.

With or without insurance and regardless of immigration status, Mottola said testing is free.

When the drive-through run by Jacobi Medical Center in Staten Island opened on March 19, there were reports of lines of cars ready for testing, but in Coney Island, they were off to a slower start on Friday. The majority of those who visited the facility did not have appointments, and were given information to try to make one.


Michael Tota, 29, was inquiring about setting up an appointment at the Coney Island drive-through testing site. Tota said it was important to have a place to get tested in the neighborhood. Photo: Paul Frangipane/Brooklyn Eagle
Michael Tota, 29, was inquiring about setting up an appointment at the Coney Island drive-through testing site. Tota said it was important to have a place to get tested in the neighborhood. Photo: Paul Frangipane/Brooklyn Eagle

“We just wanted to get up and running as quickly as possible, knowing that we may not have a huge amount of traffic today, but we’re expecting it to definitely pick up,” Mottola said.

Michael Tota drove up to the testing site out of curiosity and inquired about how to set up an appointment. The 29-year-old Coney Island resident said it was important to have a testing site in walking distance for most of the neighborhood’s residents.

“We need this,” Tota said. “Coney Island Hospital is not that far but it’s far for most people who can’t walk, that can’t travel.”

And when she got an email from Coney Island Alliance about the local testing, Ada Maldonado walked over on her way to run errands.

Coney Island's drive-through testing facility for the coronavirus is at the Ida G. Israel Clinic on W 19th Street. Photo: Paul Frangipane/Brooklyn Eagle
Coney Island’s drive-through testing facility for the coronavirus is at the Ida G. Israel Clinic on W 19th Street. Photo: Paul Frangipane/Brooklyn Eagle

“I decided to take a walk this way to see what’s going on,” the 63-year-old Maldonado said. “I’m worried because I’m over the age … I had like a little sinus infection going on within the last week and I was taking antibiotics so I’m concerned.”

Dr. Judith Flores of Coney Island Hospital said the site will eventually move a block down to MCU Park to accommodate more people.

As of Friday, there were 7,102 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New York State. New York City had the greatest amount with 5,151 cases.

New York has the highest number of confirmed cases in the country.


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